Green Beret Ian Tyrell from Ft. Campbell, KY, was recently awarded the Soldier’s Medal for rescuing a woman who was injured in an accident and drowning in a river in Tennessee. 

SSG Ian Tyrell, a Special Forces Medical Sergeant of B Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), was awarded the Soldier’s Medal by Major General John W. Brennan, Commanding General, 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne), during a ceremony at the Deeks Language Lab on July 14.

“One of the great things we get to do, is to recognize bravery,” Brennan said during his remarks, “it’s common to recognize our Soldiers in a combat zone, but what Staff Sgt. Tyrell did, is not common.”

“He didn’t think about it; his training kicked in, and he did what comes naturally,” Brennan added, “He’s also very humble about what he did and is very taken aback by all the doings with the Soldier’s Medal, but he deserves it.”

The Soldier’s Medal was created in 1926. It is the highest award for bravery not involving combat operations. The criteria for the award are as follows: “The performance must have involved personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy. Awards will not be made solely on the basis of having saved a life.”

SSG Ian Tyrell was awarded the Soldier's Medal for the rescue of a woman who broke her leg and was drowning in a Tennessee river.
SSG Ian Tyrell was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for the rescue of a woman who broke her leg and was drowning in a Tennessee river. (5th AFG Public Affairs Office)

Two years ago, in August of 2019, then-SGT Tyrell had just reported into Ft. Campbell, having just graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course (SFQC). Tyrell and a friend were heading out to Port Royal State Park just over the state border in nearby Adams, Tennessee to do some kayaking.  

Port Royal State Park is a small but popular area with locals. It has many hiking, boating, and picnicking sites.

While at the park, Tyrell and his companion noticed commotion in the river and saw that a woman was drowning. Their training kicked in. Disregarding their own personal safety, Tyrell and his friend jumped into the river and pulled the woman out.

Tyrell also recognized that after being pulled down into the water from the strong current, the injured woman had suffered a broken leg. 

Because of the river’s remote location, emergency first responders had a hard time quickly reaching the woman. Tyrell remained with her and tried to stabilize her as best as he could until she could be safely evacuated. 

“When the first responder came down, he didn’t have any of the equipment that he needed,” Tyrell said to the 5th PAO, SGT Daniel Mariscal, “the only thing I could find to make an improvised splint was the oar.”

Tyrell took his own kayak paddle, snapped it in half, and fashioned a makeshift splint for her leg. Once the EMT first responders were able to get the injured woman on an evacuation life raft, Tyrell aided them in transporting her through the rapids to a point where she could be safely evacuated.  

“The lady needed help; I helped her,” SSG Ian Tyrell said downplaying his actions, “anybody else would have done the same thing.”

Nevertheless, General Brennan didn’t buy into that and reiterated how important Tyrell’s actions were in saving the woman’s life.

“He put himself at great personal risk to save a fellow human being who could’ve possibly died,” Brennan said, “I cannot be more proud of him; he represents the Special Forces Regiment and the U.S. Army with extreme selflessness and honor.